I recently moved to a new home. In the process, I discovered that packing is the primary reason that people hate to move--the second reason is unpacking.
There is nothing like a move to show you that you have too much stuff.
We began packing about 6 weeks before our move date. The process began at a slow and leisurely pace. We identified things we wanted to give away and we would take a trunk-load to Goodwill, the ARC, or the Springs Rescue Mission as we identified enough to drop off. The process seemed to be going smoothly until we took a serious look at our basement--the black hole of the house where everything seemed to end up if it was not used daily.
We discovered that we not only had too much stuff, we had shamefully too much stuff and there was no way we would be able to take all of it with us to our new home. To relieve our overstuffed state, we had a garage sale. We sold a garage full of items--a bed, a treadmill, clothes that no longer fit, books, toys, old video games and movies. Afterwards, we looked at our belongings: still too much stuff.
We filled a dumpster. We filled a moving truck. We still left some stuff behind.
I never want to be owned by that much stuff again. I have not completely unpacked and I can see that I took too much stuff with me. Worse, I can see "International Stuff Day," I mean "Christmas" coming around the corner.
Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas. I love the reason we celebrate--the gift of Salvation through Christ Jesus. I love parties with friends and family. I love seeing delight in the eyes of my loved ones. Christmas isn't the problem, stuff is.
Taking seriously Jesus' exhortation that it is "more blessed to give than to receive," I have decided to celebrate Christmas differently this year. I want to do something radical and counter-cultural--no, I am not going to protest outside a bank--I also want to do something relevant. Who knows, you may want to join me.
This year for Christmas, I have a single Christmas gift request. I want my loved ones to donate my gift to Children's Hope Chest. I want to raise $1,000.00 or more for this ministry.
Children's Hope Chest feeds orphans, and that's good, but that's not all they do. Much like Compassion International, they have child sponsorships, whereby you can meet the needs of a child in poverty and communicate with the child via letters to instill a sense of hope, but Hopechest does something else that is amazing. Their operation in Russia actively rescues girls from the sex trade industry. Do you know what happens to an orphan when they age out of the system in Russia? They go to the street to look for their own job and housing. Some of the young girls who age out in Russia are met on the street by men and women who promise them grand jobs over seas, but sell them as sex slaves. Hopechest not only provides guidance for orphans who age out, they also actually rescue girls from brothels.
Imagine waking up Christmas morning. Under the tree, you have a few small boxes or envelopes. Instead of receiving some new sweaters, PJ's, ties, and maybe an electric razor, you open an envelope. Inside the envelope is a note that tells you that $30.00 was donated in your name to feed a child. The small box contains a note that says $100.00 was given in your name to get a girl out of a brothel. $50.00 to support a care-point in Swaziland, $25.00 toward feeding kids in India and on and on it goes. That's what I want for Christmas this year. I want to try to raise at least $1,000.00 to save lives--after all, saving people is the reason Jesus came over 2,000 years ago. Saving people is the reason for Christmas.
Maybe, this month, you will look around your house and see if you too are "overstuffed." If so, maybe you want to make this a year where you are more blessed to give than to receive--can I encourage you to request your gifts be given to Hopechest.org like me? Maybe you have another favorite ministry--how much would you like to raise for them?
Some of my family are concerned that I won't have anything to open that day. Let me assure you, I will be thrilled to open notes telling me how someone else was helped on my behalf. I have never celebrated Christmas this way, but I am really excited (more excited than ever as an adult) for Christmas day. Please, if you plan on giving a gift to me this year, give it through Hopechest and know that you not only brought me joy, you brought joy to someone in poverty too.